During the last 7 years, my 2-speed Brompton folding bike has been my faithful, urban commuting companion. With it’s super rugged, hand-brazed frame, easy to maintain components, and incredible size while folded, the Brompton folding bicycle is an incredible machine. After experiencing how convenient the Brompton folding bike is for urban commuting, I’d highly recommend it. But, what if you want to tour on a Brompton folding bike?
Many people love cycle touring. They travel to multiple countries, and ride their bikes for days, even weeks through remote, and city areas. Some prefer to bring their regular bicycles with them, because they can carry tons of gear, and the bikes are made rugged enough to handle rough terrain.
The problem is that, regular sized bicycles are very expensive to travel with. And while touring, it can be extremely difficult to combine cycling with trains and other forms of transportation. That’s where deciding to tour on a Brompton folding bike makes a lot of sense.
How to tour on a Brompton folding bike
It’s true that regular touring bikes will always be more sturdier than any folding bike, due to their diamond shaped frames.
But, that doesn’t mean that Brompton folding bikes aren’t sturdy enough for touring. Brompton folding bikes are made out of 4130 Chromoly steel, that’s hand-brazed. This makes the Brompton folding bike capable of carrying a 241 pound rider, including gear.
Brompton folding bike wheels are small
Also, bigger wheels such as 26 inch (known as 650b) and 700c will absorb bumps and vibrations better from the road. Unfortunately, the 16 inch wheels that allow the Brompton to fold up super small, (23″ x 22.2″ x 10.6″) make the front end of the bike extremely jarring while riding over bumps and rough surfaces.
The back end of the Brompton folding bike is more forgiving thanks to the built in elastic suspension block.
I’ve also noticed that the thin, high pressure Schwalbe Marathon tires are less suited for rough terrain compared to the wider tires on touring, gravel, mountain bikes, and the Schwalbe Big Apple on my Tern Link D8.
On smooth pavement the Brompton folding bike rides just as smooth and fast as any regular sized bike. Just don’t ride through thick mud, as it gets stuck between the tires and the mudguards (A.K.A fenders).
Carrying the Brompton folding bicycle on public transportation
When it comes to folding, no other holding bike can compete with the Brompton folding bike. The Brompton folding bicycle not only folds up super small. It also locks in place when the seatpost is lowered.
This means that no matter how hard you swing it around, the bike won’t suddenly become unfolded on you. Unlike other folding bikes that only fold in half, and locked together by magnets that can become unfolded without warning.
Something you will appreciate when loading the Brompton into car trunks, or carrying onto public transportation.
Another benefit of a Brompton folding bike is it’s light weight compared to regular sized bikes. Traveling can be very difficult when carrying a lot of gear, especially in freezing temperatures.
A folding bike such as the Brompton, makes cycle touring enjoyable, by being easier to carry, and allowing you to combine it with public transportation.
Bromptons are reliable but use proprietary parts
During the last 7 years, I’ve had no major problems with my Brompton. All I’ve had to do is replace the chain, and the 2-speed chain pusher.
This proves that Brompton folding bicycles are very reliable, but still need repairs occasionally. Just like any other type of bicycle.
The problem is that I’m unable to find parts at my local bike shop. In order to get my Brompton repaired, I have to first order the parts from a specialty bike shop, such as Clever Cycles.
Which by the way, has exceptional customer service, with a great selection of replacement parts and accessories.
Having to order proprietary parts can be a major issue for those that travel for extended periods of time through remote areas.
Breaking down in remote areas without transportation available can become a serious situation, and also ruin your trip.
Not only will many bike shops not have replacement parts available. It might take days, if not weeks for replacement parts to arrive to your location.
Carrying stuff on a Brompton folding bike
Brompton folding bikes have luggage blocks on the front frame that allow you to attach a large variety of bags for carrying gear.
Depending on which type of handlebars you choose, you can attach larger bags on Bromptons with “H” and “M” bars. And less on the “S” bars.
You can also get a back rack that allows you to easily roll the Brompton while folded, but is too small for regular size panniers.
Unfortunately, the Brompton has less available room for carrying necessities such as water, food, and gear.
Brompton bikes are reliable
In the last 7 years, I’ve commuted hundreds of miles on my Brompton bike. Except for replacing the chain, and 2-speed chain pusher, my Brompton has been almost bullet-proof.
So far the Schwalbe Marathon tires have not experienced any flats, and there’s been no need to replace them.
In fact, I’ve had less problems with my Brompton than I had with my 24 speed hybrid bicycle.
If you decide to tour on a Brompton folding bike, just make sure you keep it properly maintained and tuned. Especially before going on a cycling tour.
Replace parts that need changing after so many miles. Check the hinge clamps to make sure they hold tight. Change the chain and sprockets when they become worn, and keep them oiled.
Gear and brake cables should be replaced every few years, or sooner if they have frays.
Make sure your Brompton bike is in great working condition before going on a cycling tour, as sourcing proprietary parts may be impossible.
Brompton folding bike tires
My current Brompton tires are the Schwalbe Marathon tires. They’ve been flat free, and still have a good amount of tread left on them.
Despite being such great tires, there’s a few things to keep in mind.
Smaller wheels rotate more times than larger wheels when going the same speed. With this increased contact with the road, the tires will wear out much faster. Especially the rear tire.
Make sure you bring at least one or two spare tires on your tour. Also, it’s a great idea to bring replacement spokes, as most shops won’t have the right size. You can store these in the hollow tube holding the rucksack.
Brompton folding bikes are comfortable
The great thing about Brompton folding bikes is that they ride incredibly well, despite having 16 inch wheels.
Of course, Brompton bikes are all about portability, so there are a few compromises you’ll have to deal with.
Brompton bikes do have less gears than a regular bicycle. But still have 6, evenly spaced gears.
With a six speed, at 12% reduced gearing, you are able to climb most hills and mountains. As long as they aren’t too extreme.
The Brompton gear ratios are made to handle most terrains, fast terrains, flat sections, etc.
Brompton bikes have many bag options
In order to tour on a Brompton folding bike, you’ll need a way to carry your gear. Brompton bikes makes it easy with a luggage block that attaches to the frame, instead of the handlebars.
This keeps the bag form interfering with steering. And speaking of bags, there’s many choices available. Brompton bags come in different sizes, colors, and materials.
Currently, I’m using a Sport bag that fits perfectly with my sport handlebars. The bag easily clips and unclips from the front luggage block. Making it very easy to carry the Brompton and gear onto public transportation such as trains, buses, and even planes.
Conclusion to how to tour on a Brompton folding bike
Owning a 2-speed Brompton folding bicycle for the last 7 years has been an incredible experience.
The Brompton folding bicycle has been super reliable, easy to combine with public transportation, and more than adequate for carrying all my everyday essentials.
If you’re thinking of taking a tour on a Brompton folding bike, remember to prepare ahead of time.
Make sure your Brompton folding bike is well maintained and tuned before going on a cycling tour.
Bring extra parts with you such as tires, spokes, etc, as the proprietary parts used on a Brompton might not be available everywhere.
And if you plan on flying with your Brompton, make sure you pack it in a hard case, made specifically for the Brompton folding bike. This will not only keep your Brompton safe from damage, but will also save you from extra travel fees.
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